Rachel Simmons is the author of the New York Times bestseller Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls.
Although she originally wrote it to heal herself after being targeted as a child, she eventually came to terms with her own bullying behavior as a teen, something she speaks about widely. After nearly a decade teaching leadership skills to girls and interviewing them about the pressure to be perfect, she wrote The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence, also a bestseller.
Rachel is a proud Women’s Studies major and Vassar graduate. After winning a Rhodes Scholarship from New York, Rachel spent a year studying political theory at Oxford University, where she was unfortunately miserable. She left after a year and felt too ashamed to speak about it publicly, until she realized how much high achieving young women could benefit from a story about losing your way, then finding it again.
Rachel co-founded Girls Leadership Institute, a national nonprofit, because she wanted to teach girls how to give firm handshakes (she has since expanded her understanding of leadership). Along the way, Rachel became a seasoned classroom teacher and curriculum writer. Rachel’s classes and workshops develop students’ emotional intelligence, communication skills, healthy risk taking ability, and confidence.
After ten years of international public speaking and countless live television appearances, Rachel gave a TEDxWomen talk that made her so nervous she didn’t think she’d survive it. Afterwards, Jane Fonda hugged her. In 2010, Rachel began developing workshops for undergraduate women at the Center for Work and Life at Smith College, and has since begun working with college-age women around the country.
Rachel was the host of the PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and is also a contributing writer and advice columnist for Teen Vogue. She has been profiled by the New York Times, and her writing has been published in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, CNN.com and the Huffington Post.
Rachel has appeared on Oprah twice. She got on the show for the second time because she begged Oprah during a commercial break to let her interview girls on camera, and then worried that Oprah thought she was crazy. The show called 5 days later, and Oprah called 10 years later to invite Rachel to work at her South Africa leadership academy for girls.
Odd Girl Out was adapted into a highly acclaimed Lifetime television movie; if you want to watch it, please ask Rachel’s father, who calls Rachel to let her know every single time it is on. Rachel is passionate about exercise, music, high end television, and cheese. She lives in western Massachusetts with her toddler daughter and West Highland Terrier, Rosie, who is currently taking private workshops with Rachel to learn how to stop bullying other dogs.